Sunday, June 11, 2017

impossibly lofty goal

St Ephrem talks to us today about living our Christian lives according to His ideals in A Year with the Church Fathers.

And he says some tough things, that set some really high goals. "Do not resist evil, because whoever resists evil is evil from the evil one." And "Do everything as if nothing existed and God alone was in being."

Now, those are some high goals. Impossible, one might even say. We know that nothing is impossible with God. And we also know that while God, the Bible, and the Church set extremely high goals for us, they also provide us with extreme grace and mercy when we fail to meet those goals. They don't lower the goal... and they don't give less grace. They both keep the goal super high and give us tons of grace when we fail.

But the line that really struck me from Ephrem today was "Do not oppose the seasons, for the changes are many." The times, they are a'changin'. As one of my lyrical heroes once said, "The wind don't blow where you want it to go, the wind just blows where it will and you follow." The wind he was referring to is the Holy Spirit, which is sent by that unTame Lion, Jesus.

Keeping our hands open to receive what He gives us each day rather than what we expected... keeping on our toes when He sends us blessings we weren't expecting... looking ahead with faith and hope rather than fear and dread... that's what this means.

Don't oppose those changes... embrace them. Because He is sending them for a reason, and He will give us the strength to meet the challenge. Does that mean everything that happens is from Him? No, we live in a fallen world among people and fallen angels with minds of their own. Free will means we will suffer things that He didn't directly send into our lives. But He WILL work all of them for good. ALL of them. As long as we ask Him to.

God, please help us keep our hands - and hearts - open to your divine gifts.